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'I'd love him to play 10 more often, it would help his development': The Carbery dilemma

Joe Schmidt says Carbery playing at full-back for Leinster ‘is an unfortunate situation’ for Ireland.

Carbery was superb in attack during Ireland's win over Fiji.
Carbery was superb in attack during Ireland's win over Fiji.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A SUSPECTED BROKEN arm, and a period on the sidelines, is a cruel outcome from an evening on which Joey Carbery lit up the Aviva Stadium, but if anything it highlighted the need for the 22-year-old to play regularly at out-half.

Starting his first game of the season in the pivot position having played all his rugby at fullback for Leinster this term, Carbery’s genius was on show from the off as his trademark show-and-go and step created Ireland’s first try out of nothing.

The pass off his wrong side was exquisite; Darren Sweetnam didn’t have to break stride to go over in the corner.

“Joey was a bit special the way he cut the line and got that pass into the hands of Darren Sweetnam, who finished comfortably for the try,” Joe Schmidt said afterwards.

“I thought Joey’s ability to organise others is coming along; his vision is really good.”

The crowd purred as Carbery weaved his magic.

Jale Vatubua had enough, taking man and ball with a thunderous hit but Carbery — whiplashed — picked himself back up. Flinging passes left and right, deft offloads, gentle dummies, dead-weight grubbers into space. Masterful.

“And the threat he poses at the line himself, he ducked and dived, and posed questions, but he’s brave, potentially to a fault,” Schmidt adds. “He pays no heed as to what’s in front of him.”

One big hit too many ended Carbery’s night, his involvement in this November series ended prematurely. A real shame, because the kid needs game time. He needs to play more at 10, he needs to kick more.

Because, once again, his place-kicking was the blot on the copybook.

One from three could have cost Ireland in the endgame but the problem for Schmidt, who sees the Athy native as his long-term 10, is that Carbery is playing at fullback for Leinster.

Joey Carbery kicks a conversion Carbery kicked one from three. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Schmidt knows it’s almost an impossible task to play club rugby in one position and then play a different position in the Test arena.

“Look, it is what it is, it’s an unfortunate situation for us, but I totally understand, they’ve got Johnny Sexton at Leinster, he plays and Rob Kearney was injured so Joey takes the opportunity at fullback,” the head coach says.

“I just appreciate that he gets game time and is in good condition to play. I’d love him to play 10 more often, it would help his development, but it’s a needs-must situation.

“He’s such a team orientated character he would play anywhere and I totally understand that.”

It’s a dilemma, because iron out the issues off the tee and Carbery is world class. His potential knows no bounds. He glides. In full flight, a joy to behold and worth the entry fee alone.

“I thought his ability to organise others is coming along, that’s one of the biggest responsibilities for a 10,” Schmidt continues.

“His vision is just really good too, a cross kick in the first half for Dave Kearney was pin-point perfect and his kick where we thought we scored, the Andrew Conway knock on — was really well placed for us to be competitive at it.”

A multi-talented, incredibly versatile player, the sky is the limit for Carbery.

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